2010 is coming to an end and the first year of the iPad is also nearing a close. Since its release there have been dozens upon dozens of apps that have proven its value, and next year we’ll no doubt see even more. Which apps appeal to a specific person is of course individual, but that doesn’t mean I can’t present a list of my top apps of 2010.
Top game: Cut the Rope
This was a close race between Angry Birds [$4.99] and Cur the Rope HD [$1.99]. I like both a lot, but at $4.99 I think the iPad version of Angry Birds is overpriced for not providing anythhing new from the $0.99 iPhone app. I also think that Cut the Rope is a bit more casual and fun because it’s a lot easier to get 3 stars in all levels than on Angry Birds. I like chasing top scores and achievements as much as the next guy (which my PlayStation trophy collection is proof of), but getting 3 stars in all levels of Angry Birds is just tedious and annoying. Cut the ROpe has excellent graphics and an adorable style and visuals that you simply can’t hate. It’s the kind of game that works so well on the platform, contrary to the wannabe-console games you pay $10 for and delete after 5 minutes because the controls are horrible (yes Modern Combat, YOU).
Top entertainment app: Zinio
Zinio is a digital magazine app where you can buy either subscriptions or single issues of a whole range of magazines in digital format. They’re the same format as on paper, so it’s just like reading the real deal. I like their product a lot, but I hate the company to such a degree that I almost didn’t want to include them in this article. My main gripe is that they give away your email address to publishers of the magazines you subscribe to, and there is no setting on their site that will prevent this. If you subscribe to a few magazines your inbox will suddenly by full of spam email from those publishers, and they don’t identify themselves as Zinio newsletters so you can forget about catching all of them with a clever gmail filter. Even worse, Zinio lets publishers give out free magazines which you then automatically get in your app, and you have to go in and delete them manually. Those publishers also get your email, so the result is that your magazine app suddenly has magazines like VIVmag in them and your inbox is full of spam from them as well. Not good. Not legal, even, here in Norway.
My second gripe with Zinio is that their software is crap. I don’t know what sort of idiot is coding all their apps (both on PC, iPhone, iPad etc) but on every single platform they’re on it’s the most buggy and unstable app on that platform as far as I’ve seen.It will crash, hang, display stupid error messages that make no sense, etc etc.
So why do I keep using them? No one else do what they do. Being able to subscribe to a bunch of apps for as low as $10 a year is simply awesome and the iPad’s resolution is just good enough for it to be a real magazine experience with no zooming needed, unlike the iPhone app and even the PC app if you don’t have a 1080p or above monitor and sit very close to it. Having an iPad means that such magazines as iPhone life and Macworld are obvious candidates for subscribing to, but you can find magazines for more of less any topic from photography to fashion. Just remember when you sign up that you use a secondary email- if you use Gmail you can add “+wordfilter” to the end of your email (e.g [email protected]) and set up a filter for that address in Gmail, as you WILL get spammed to death by these people. The app is free, magazines cost money (some free ones available to try out though).
Top productivity app: smartNote
It’s probably not a big surprise that smartNote made the list, since it’s the first and so far only app reviewed on this site. smartNote [$2.99] is an incredible versatile note taking app that combines handwriting, typing and voice recording with existing documents to give you a full “write on documents” setup. At $2.99 it’s a steal and this is the perfect app for students and others alike.
Top app for students: iStudiez (Pro)
Technically smartNote is my top app for students but since that one also works for other uses I made it the top productivity app instead. iStudiez [Lite, free] [Pro, $2.99] on the other hand is rather useless if you’re not in school. iStudiez is basically a calendar app that is custom tailored for students, meaning it’s much more suited for schedules and such than other general calendar apps. You can add semesters, courses and classes and it will then populate the calendar. You can also add holidays as well as add assignments under each course. There is also a built in address book meant to hold information about the teachers so you can eaisly email the right person directly from the app or see what courses that person has. It saves you the trouble of making individual calendars for courses or use tasks or appointments as reminders for hand ins. The only thing I’m missing from the app is the ability to add curriculum and other documents (such as detailed time tables). A better name would also help. The Pro version is cheap, and the Lite version isn’t really all that limited either and will do the job for many people.
Top RSS reader: Reeder
Tablets are content consumption devices more than anything else. As someone who spends a lot of time catching up on RSS feeds in Google Reader, a good RSS reader for the iPad was a must-have. It’s much more comfortable to lean back and read stories rather than sit in front of a computer. There are a lot of RSS readers out there, and some of them are quite interesting and unique. While I have tried apps like Pulse [Free], Flipboard [Free] and The Early Edition [$4.99] and found all of them to be fun to use, I prefer the old style of RSS readers when I need to go through a lot of feeds. Reeder [$4.99] is excellent for that and in landscape mode it gives you a split view with an article list on the left and article content on the right that I find to be very easy and convenient to use. It does require a Google Reader account, but if you use RSS feeds at all chances are you have one.